For all the contentious, divisive issues that have recently dominated national headlines, there is one policy issue that continues to receive broad, bipartisan support—the need for meaningful sentencing and corrections reforms in the United States. And with new efforts by President Obama to highlight the need for changes, the time may be right for a significant transformation in how we view prisons and the men and women inside them.
It’s altogether too easy for those of us with little or no connection to prison to dismiss and ignore the men and women behind bars. Content to live our own lives, we are quick to conclude that the incarcerated “got what they had coming to them,” and to write them off as inconsequential.
For many prisoners, the challenges and difficulties that come with incarceration don’t end when they leave prison for the outside world. Free from the monotonous routine and structured environment of prison, these men and women are thrown into a world that is unfamiliar, with little (if any) support structure, few contacts that will do anything other than lead them to reoffending, and bearing a “scarlet letter” that makes it virtually impossible to establish themselves as productive members of society.
On August 26, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program sponsored the seventh-annual Angel Tree Football Clinic at Stanford for at-risk youth. The camp served nearly 300 boys ages 7 to 13 from northern and central California, many who have a parent behind bars.
Prison Fellowship and Tyndale House Publishers are partnering to provide Bibles to children participating in the Angel Tree program this Christmas season – and YOU can help make sure these kids receive the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Participating Christian bookstores and retail partners will be offering shoppers the opportunity to purchase a special “You Are Loved” Bible (New Living Translation) that will be provided to boys and girls aged 7 to 15 on behalf of their incarcerated parent or parents.
Good news for Prison Fellowship supporters in California who wanted to participate in last weekend’s Spartan Race in Virginia, but were unable to take the cross-country trip to be a part of the festivities—there is another opportunity to tie up your running shoes and get some exercise, while supporting Prison Fellowship. (And this time, you won’t have to worry about mud pits, rope climbs, or menacing Spartan warriors.)
On Saturday, October 6, Biola University will host its second annual 5 kilometer run/walk as part of the Biola Weekend festivities. Funds raised by the event will help support Biola’s social justice ministry, which is in partnership with Prison Fellowship. The race begins at 8:00 AM, and winds through the beautiful Biola campus. Cost is $10 for guests and $5.00 for students, with runners under the age of 10 running for free. Participants will receive a t-shirt for being part of the festivities, and prizes will be provided to runners with the best times from various categories.
Last Sunday, a team of PF staff and supporters took part in the Spartan Race in Leesburg, Virginia. As the pictures below might indicate, the Spartan Race is not your average 10k race. Participants are challenged with a number of obstacles and challenges, making completion of the 8-9 mile course a little more difficult, and a lot messier.
A new law in Ohio is improving opportunities for juvenile offenders and helping them integrate back into society.
Senate Bill 337, signed into law by Governor John Kasich, allows for juvenile records to be expunged after six months, excluding convictions of murder, attempted murder, or rape. Previously, records were not destroyed until after two years.
It is beyond debate that serving time in prison has a lasting effect on inmates well after they are released. Prison records follow them as they apply for jobs, attempt to procure loans, or find a place to live. Opportunities to network with new business associates and clients have to start from scratch. And in some states, ex-prisoners are banned to work in locations that serve alcohol, deal with children, or require some kind of state license (for example, a plumber, electrician, or even a cosmetologist).
More of the 2.7 million children of prisoners in the U.S. will be connected with their incarcerated parents this holiday season, thanks to a new partnership between Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program and the Church of the Nazarene. The denomination’s Board of General Superintendents recently voted to encourage Church of the Nazarene congregations across the country to take part in the only nationwide, year-round effort that reaches out exclusively to children with a parent in prison.